12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
Neither Thomas or Philip understood the way in which the Father was present in the words and miracles of Christ. In verses 12 to 14 Jesus turns to the apostolic mission after His resurrection. He appeals to His followers to have faith.
12 “Most assuredly [amen, amen], I say to you,
The emphatic double amen indicates that what Jesus is about to say is important. We are to take special notice of what He says here. Jesus speaks here of the role of the apostles after His resurrection.
he who believes in Me,
“He who” may indicate that Jesus speaks here of more than the band of apostles; it may refer to any believer here. The change to the third person makes the statement a general truth for all believers rather than specifically to Philip or the apostles.
“Believes in” means to keep on believing in Him. This person will continue the ministry of Christ after He is gone. The very departure of Jesus will strengthen their faith. This faith will carry them to do “greater works” than Jesus did when He was on earth.
the works that I do
Jesus calls attention to the nature of His miracles or “works.”
he will do also;
Believers of all ages will do works similar to what Jesus did. This is a promise from Jesus.
and greater works than these he will do,
The apostles and believers who succeed them will do “greater works” than Jesus did. These are “greater works” in terms of volume, not in nature; they will do more works than Jesus did while He was on earth. The works of believers are not more astounding than that of Jesus, but their works will be greater in number. Even the apostles in the book of Acts never walked on water or fed 5,000 men at one sitting or raise a person like Lazarus from the dead.
Thus, the “greater works” do not refer to quality but to quantity. The apostles, for example, will do more things over a longer period of time. We can see the success of their ministry in the book of Acts. They influenced more people and over a larger geographical area than Jesus did. There were a few miracles of healing, but the overwhelming emphasis is on the many converted to His name. We see this especially in Acts 2 where hundreds turn to Christ in one fell swoop (Ac 2:43).
because I go to My Father.
Since Jesus will be crucified and raised from the dead within a few hours, He will leave behind those who will do His work after He leaves.
The disciples of Christ will do greater works primarily because Jesus would have died and rose from the dead. He would have already won our redemption. That message will be pointed and clear after the glorification of Jesus. His followers will also have the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a unique way. Jesus will promise the coming of the Holy Spirit later in this chapter (Jn 14:16–17, 26; 15:26–27; 16:7-11, 12–15). The disciples could not do greater works independently of Jesus going back to the Father.
We need to focus on future ministry rather than the present or past.
There are times when we need to look away from our problems to the task before us. The apostles were facing deep trouble in their lives, but Jesus called upon them to look at their mission after His resurrection. We need to do the same today.